Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Candidates and Cargo Pants

We were returning home from a weekend in New York. As we crossed the border and got onto the Mass Turnpike, we put the radio on and I heard that Hillary Clinton would be signing copies of her new book in Harvard Square the following week.

I immediately sent myself an email reminder. There was no way I was going to miss it.

Several years ago, I was one of those people who felt, not just sad that Clinton pulled out of the presidential race but, downright betrayed. Not by her, certainly. No one could accuse her of giving it any less than her all. I was angry at my country — a place that is made up of slightly more women than men (just under 51% according to the 2013 Census), but still couldn't accept a woman in the White House. I was particularly bitter about my own friends and their half-assed excuses:

"Hillary isn't electable."

"She's too harsh."

And my favorite, "I have nothing against a woman president. Just not that woman."

Well, I was pretty excited by the prospect of meeting that woman. The tickets would go fast (Cambridge is a very blue town in a very blue state), so I asked my team of experts for help. My husband and teenage daughter are concert groupies (different bands for sure, but same level of dedication). They are adept at scoring even the most elusive tickets. I was advised to go onto the event website just before the sale started and then hit "refresh," "refresh," refresh."

It worked!

I was so startled when the screen suddenly came up asking how many tickets I wanted (limit: 2) that I almost hit "refresh" again. But, I didn't and within a minute or so, my transaction was complete. Good thing, because within three minutes or so, the event was sold out.

On the order page, on the confirmation page, on the tickets themselves and on multiple email reminders to come, I was given a list of rules surrounding the event. When we could line up, when we would get wristbands, when the doors would open. What we could — or more specifically could not — bring in with us. No bags (even purses). No cameras. Everything had to fit in a pocket.

I joked to my husband that between IDs, wallet, car keys and phone, I would have to wear cargo pants.

"Not a pretty look," he texted back.

Nevertheless, that's what I ended up wearing. Black silky cargo pants (with generous pockets) and an embroidered white blouse. I also wore comfortable shoes. Even with tickets in hand, we'd be standing on line for a long time.

My husband is a Hillary supporter, but we agreed that it would be better to use the second coveted ticket for our daughter. She was very happy to forego homework and she was a lot less stressed about what to wear (probably because all of her things ended up in my pockets). 

By the time we got to Harvard Square, the line stretched the equivalent of two and a half blocks. (It snaked back from Mass Ave, past the Harvard Crimson, the old Hasty Pudding and the Harvard Lampoon, as well as many coffee shops to which we did not go, having been warned that there were no restrooms in the bookstore.) Over the nearly three hours we waited, the line continued to grow. In fact, we were (as our wristbands indicated) numbers 430 and 431 out of the thousand who attended.

There were secret service, which was very cool. And metal detectors. There were Cambridge police officers too. But despite the barricades and checkpoints, the atmosphere was like a party. Like a party of smart, determined women. (I would say the female/male ratio was about 10-to-1.) The conversations naturally drifted toward our childhoods, our education, our experience with feminism. 

And our utter support for the yet undeclared candidate we were about to meet.

Finally, we got into the bookstore itself, only to find that the line snaked through virtually every bookcase. There was an excited buzz that, despite official notices to the contrary, HRC was posing for selfies. Unfortunately, the rather humorless men and women there to protect her soon put a stop to that. But, we were still pretty thrilled.

Ms. Clinton was absolutely lovely. She cordially thanked me for coming and signed "Hillary" in bright blue across the front page of her book. (Apparently we're on a first name basis now. Me and my BFF Hill.) I thanked her back (for too much to get into), but my daughter was less tongue-tied.

"I just wanted to tell you that 2016 will be my first presidential election. And, I'm going to vote for you."

Hillary smiled broadly and then laughed. "How old are you?" she asked.


"Well, that's just great. You have a good summer."

We were politely, but firmly, moved along and neither of us could stop grinning until we reached Panera and our after-hours dinner.

It continues to amaze me that my daughter, who is too shy to speak up at book club or join a cafeteria table of classmates she only sorta, kinda knows, holds her own with rockstars.

And future presidents.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at 

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